Editor’s note. This is THE MOST POPULAR POST ON THIS WEBSITE, BAR NONE. Keep in mind that it is over 4 years old and does not apply to the *current* GW chicanery– this post was a response to the 2011 price hikes, not the 2013 ones. 6/28/13: I’ve shut down comments on this– not because I mind them at all, it’s just that this, being the most popular post on this blog (still), is attracting 2 spam “let me sell you something” comments a day. Sorry about that. Note from 11/2015: recent decisions on GW’s part maybe (maybe!) will influence me to be more sympathetic to GW’s position in a modern marketplace. Mind you, I still consider them to be bullying dinosaurs, but they don’t have the influence they once did, and the idea that they might be considering reprinting the games that I once found enticing may play into my sympathies as well. I can be bought off with a reprint of Epic, Man o’ War and some other classics.. maybe..
Does the headline seem reactionary? Am I displaying too much angst? Heck, I’ll cop to that. I have my reasons. Let’s review:
The corporate entity known as Games Workshop has announced another set of price increases for their retail products, a news item that’s become a hallmark of every Spring in the last decade, it seems. One learns to expect this from GW. However, this particular price raise has such a pervasive, rancid stink on it, it’s a little hard to ignore. As if someone had cut a hole in the wallboard, deposited a trout and wallpapered over the hole in hopes we wouldn’t notice.
First of all, the facts. To steal from John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
- GW’s 2011 price raises will be on average 22% for any given item and as high as 25% for some items. Don’t take my word for it, they have not made a secret of the fact.
- GW also has just released a line called “Finecast”, which are presumably resin replacements for the metal line. The theory being stated was resin casting will be cheaper for consumer. GW has raised their Finecast prices, too.
- The terms and conditions under which independent retailers (both brick & mortar game shops and internet retailers) must follow to sell GW products has changed. These new terms restrict these retailers to selling only in their “world zone” (notice the world map when you enter the GW website? That’s what they consider world zones). Retailers in North America can no longer sell to Australia and New Zealand, even though with markups, currency exchange rates and shipping in the equation, this could result in a price range as high as 60% for GW customers in the Southern hemisphere. No I’m not making this up, it’s all on their website, and not that hard to find.
Games Workshop announced their profits were better than expected for the 2nd half of their fiscal year. (Feel free to check their financial statement– GW is a publicly traded company and they have to reveal profit and loss). GW has undergone a rigorous period of cost-cutting and staff reduction, as well as charging more for less product produced. As a result, GW has made more money than projected. These extra profits have rolled into extra dividends to stock investors, but precious little to research, development, and expansion of product lines.
So, to sum up. Sales are down. New line of allegedly cheap resincast figures at jacked up prices (and, rumor has it, by mail order only!). Profits are up through cutting back on personnel and raising prices. Southern half of the planet essentially embargoed from receiving product. Got the essentials?
Here’s a representative sampling of data, taken from the GW release on the price change:
|Code||Description||CURRENT USD||NEW PRICE||Percent Change|
|48-28||SPACE MARINE SCOUT BIKE||$12.00||$15.00||25%|
|91-11||VAMPIRE COUNTS GRAVE GUARD||$33.00||$41.25||25%|
|88-12||LIZARDMEN TEMPLE GUARD||$33.00||$41.25||25%|
|DARK ANGELS CHAPTER UPGRADE FRAME||$13.25||$16.50||25%|
|BATTLEFLEET GOTHIC ARMADA||$40.00||$49.50||24%|
|66-90||WARHAMMER 40K BASING KIT||$20.00||$24.75||24%|
|48-08||SPACE MARINE BATTLEFORCE||$90.00||$110.00||22%|
|43-09||CHAOS SPACE MARINE BATTLEFORCE||$90.00||$110.00||22%|
|82-11||BRETONNIAN PEGASUS KNIGHT||$15.00||$18.25||22%|
|IMPERIAL CRASHED AQUILA LANDER||$24.75||$30.00||21%|
|11-05||RANGERS OF MIDDLE EARTH||$27.25||$33.00||21%|
|09-15||CORSAIRS OF UMBAR||$27.25||$33.00||21%|
That’s just a few product items to give you an idea of how I get the average percentage increase number.
The immediate impact will be that most retail items will go up a little more than a fifth of the original price, and secondary outlets will pass that on in the bottom line. Southern hemisphere painting services that were buying in bulk and selling whole units pre-painted as a specialty item (e.g., PaintedFigs.com) will probably get out of that business as the margin has just become unprofitable. That’s a sad thing.
Sales down, profits up (due to budget manipulation and cost-cutting, not new product). What’s the best way to increase sales? Price raises across the board. Forcing half the planet into a gulag zone where they can ruthlessly profit from sales practices. Gouging on the supposedly cheap substitute for metal miniatures. I’m just serving notice that I have had enough. No more. I won’t patronize GW Stores. Believe me, it would be easy enough to patronize them. There’s one about four miles from my house.
Hey, wait a second, you might be saying. YOU don’t play Warhammer. YOU don’t play the Lord of the Rings game. You big hypocrite! Why would this price raise mess even matter to you? Simple. I do shop at the GW stores for lots of things– mostly bits and units with a unique look (like bulk skeletons, zombies and such), bases, glue, and paint. I’m not a regular customer, and I’m certainly not in their favorite demographic of people who are willing to dispense with hundreds of dollars slavishly buying their products. Still, I can do my part. Games Workshop is engaged in predatory capitalism of the worst sort, and it angers me.
I’ll let you in on a little secret– well, honestly, it’s not a secret, it should be obvious after the last decade of GW style capitalism. There’s going to be a lot of angry people and a lot of angry internet chatter as a result of GW’s new prices and distribution policy. You know how much GW will pay attention? Pretty much not at all. Go ahead, fill out an online petition, or join a Facebook group protesting GW’s prices. It won’t matter. The leadership of GW isn’t interested on the impact on the community. It’s interested in the impact on the bottom line– GW acted in a short term fashion, which helped their bottom line for this year. They’ll worry about next year,, next year. All the shouting, and “acts of solidarity” and petitions and internet hate mail is just white noise to them.
The only action that will have ANY impact on them is to influence a trend they DO notice.. profits.
Here’s what I’m suggesting:
1) Stop buying from Games Workshop, stop immediately. Don’t you have enough already?
2) If you are a collector with a large investment and have more to buy, consider buying used, or from a reseller (while they have stock left– I predict that is going to change after retailers and resellers realize that GW is going to be increasingly cost-prohibitive to carry stock for).
3) Switch obsessions. Back in the WARZONE days, it seemed as if there was only one competitor in the same niche as Games Workshop. That’s not the case any more. I’m sure the folks at Privateer Press, Spartan Games, and Battlefront might have something that would appeal to your baser instincts. (Rob North also suggests Mantic Games as a substitute for Warhammer Fantasy, see his comment to this post)
Consider contacting Games Workshop directly, politely, No hate mail. They’ll just tune it out. They are expecting that. Explain your point of view calmly and the actions you intend to take. Consider a regular letter instead of an email– they are so rare GW might take notice.
In the end, really, anything we as customers do probably won’t make any difference, since not enough people will boycott GW, or switch hobbies, to make a significant impact. GW will either get the message, or it won’t. Until then, GW is working on their marketing strategy for 2012:
Stop whining, and START BUYING!!
Dakka Dakka Forum
The Purple Pawn
Official Notice from GW
Dark Sphere (breaks out the price raise by item, cited in table above)
Zac’s Gaming Blog reviews the new Finecast line (note his comment about a price comparison between a Spartan Games Dystopian Wars starter fleet and just TWO Finecast miniatures)